Fidelis Munyoro Chief Court Reporter
Harare Municipality Workers’ Union chairman Cosmas Bungu has won an appeal to annul the arbitral proceedings that confirmed his dismissal from employment in 2010.
Mr Bungu was sacked from employment for breaching the local authority’s code of conduct after he allegedly absented himself from work for more than five days without official leave.
He was also accused of committing an act of dereliction of duty.
Mr Bungu unsuccessfully contested his case before the internal disciplinary committee. The matter was referred to an arbitrator who confirmed council’s decision to sack the HMWU chair.
This prompted Mr Bungu to appeal to the Labour Court, but Justice Lilian Kudya ruled that all appeal grounds were devoid of merit and “the appeal should accordingly fail in its entirety”.
Mr Bungu then took the matter up to the Supreme Court on appeal against the Labour Court decision.
The Supreme Court considered whether the lower court was correct in finding that an arbitration had been properly conducted and if not whether it was appropriate for appellant court to set aside the arbitration proceedings and order fresh hearing.
In the end, a three-judge panel quashed the Labour Court decision confirming Mr Bungu’s dismissal.
The court further decided that remitting the matter for fresh hearing before a new arbitrator was a sensible approach that would bring finality to the dispute in the most effective way.
“The appeal be and is hereby allowed with costs,” said Justice Paddington Garwe.
“The arbitral award by P Bvumbe (arbitrator) be and is hereby set aside. For the avoidance of doubt, the order referring the matter for arbitration remains extant.”
Mr Bungu who worked as a housing managing officer was relieved of his duties in 2009 following accusation that he absented himself from work for more than five days without a reasonable excuse.
It was also alleged that Mr Bungu failed to perform his contractual duties as demanded by his position as housing manager.
He was then charged with alleged offences and brought before a disciplinary committee leading to his sacking.
Mr Bungu who was represented by J Mambara and Partners legal practitioners challenged the manner in which the matter was handled.
He argued that he was unfairly sacked because his absence had reasonable cause.
Mr Bungu’s immediate boss confirmed that his absence was necessitated by his extra-duties as the HMWU chair.
This, the supervisor said was normal as Mr Bungu would take leave of absence and fill in leave forms each time he returned to work.
Most of the witness expected to testify in his case have either died or left council employment putting the council case on the ropes.